There’s a Dalvin Cook Plot Twist

AFC East Arms Race
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It has been one of the worst-kept secrets in the NFL world that the Vikings are trying to move Dalvin Cook. Countless reports about a potential trade and potential trade partners appear out of nowhere, just to disappear again.

At this point, the situation is still fluid. A new report emerges daily. All options are on the table. The Vikings could trade or release him. However, a third option appeared on Monday in a report.

There’s a Dalvin Cook Plot Twist

There Is a Dalvin Cook Plot Twist
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Vikings fans have been waiting for the trade news to drop for months. Many expected it to happen before or during the hot phase of free agency a couple of months ago. He was expected to be moved during the draft, which was never going to happen because it is not easy to trade a big contract during the event.

Some trade candidates seemed to disappear during the draft, for example, the Miami Dolphins, who drafted speedster Devon Achane out of Texas A&M in the third round. However, the rumors still exist that the Dolphins could be in the market for the veteran, a strange team for him as they already employ a plethora of decent runners.

Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson come to mind. Both had success with head coach Mike McDaniel when he was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco. Regardless, McDaniel saw just last season how dangerous the 49ers’ offense became once his former team added Christian McCaffrey to the mix. McDaniel might want to build his own version of the 49ers’ offense in South Florida.

Another Nugget Enters
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Cook should fetch no more than a late-round pick in today’s market. A running back is nearly worthless in trade talks because the league became a passing league. The glamourous days of Barry Sanders or Adrian Peterson as the most dangerous playmakers in the league are long gone. Most teams want a committee of cheap runners and not an expensive RB.

If the Vikings aren’t happy with the trade market and don’t want to cut their star, there is a third option. They could just keep Cook. The advantage is obvious — the team would keep their homerun hitter in the building, a player who is past his prime but can still change the outcome of games. He showed his worth just last year. The best examples were the two big touchdown runs against the Bills and the Colts, allowing the team to complete historic comeback wins in each game.

Conversely, the problem would be the expensive contract and the absurd cap hit. To fully understand the numbers, it has to be noted that they change on June 1.

If the Vikings trade Cook before that date, they would save roughly $7.9 million and take on a $6.2 cap penalty. A release adds another couple of million dollars to the penalty and reduces the savings by the same amount.

If the team waits for June 1, a trade opens up $11 million in 2023, leaving the team with a dead cap hit of $3.1 million in each of 2023 and 2024. A release saves the Vikings $9 million with a dead cap hit of $5.1 million in 2023 and $3.1 million in 2024.

about Dalvin Cook
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One report from SI’s Albert Breer suggests that the Vikings could stand pat and keep their highly prized runner on the team:

Cook won’t play for Minnesota at his current number ($11 million) this year. The Vikings have come close to trading him, going deep into talks with Miami a couple of months back. But all along, the communication has been good, and the team has been open to bringing him back on a reduced number.

If the Vikings could indeed find a way for common ground with Cook, he could stay on the team for his seventh season. Only Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter, and C.J. Ham joined the organization before Cook.

The running back has a cap hit of $14.1 million in 2023, the third most among running backs behind only Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb and the third most of all Vikings behind Kirk Cousins and Brian O’Neill.

Alexander Mattison Lost
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Cook staying would be a big blow to the other backs on the team, as he would keep his spot in the starting lineup. The Vikings re-signed Alexander Mattison after his rookie contract expired to a two-year contract for $3.5 million, almost fully guaranteed. That type of money suggests that the team wanted him back as the starter or at least one of the players in a committee.

That could be formed with one of 2022 rookie Ty Chandler who was slowed down by injuries and competition in his debut season, and rookie DeWayne McBride, a seventh-round pick with elite production in college. Chandler is a speedy runner, and McBride is a powerback.

The situation is fluid and could change at any minute. Vikings fans will get more clarity in the upcoming weeks.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt